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Tuesday, June 16: Kirk Olivadotti On Linebackers,Teaching, Bicycles and Eating Elephants

Posted by Matt Terl on June 16, 2009 – 10:05 am

When I started this series of interviews with the Redskins coaching staff, I mentioned that I had found that even informed and intelligent fans of the team didn’t know a lot about the coaches outside of the top guys. Linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti is a particularly interesting test case of that — he’s been here for nine years, so his name tends to sound familiar, but I’ve definitely encountered a little mild confusion about what, exactly, he does.

This may be because he’s a low-key kind of guy — I deliberately made sure to get pictures of him at OTAs for this post; he is facing the camera in NONE of them, although team photographer Ned Dishman came through with the above image.

But it also may be because he’s had a number of different positions here over that span, starting at defensive quality control coach and working his way up. So that’s where I started our conversation (which actually took place last week): asking if he thought that steady climb up the coaching ladder had affected the way he approaches his current position.

“Yeah, it’s been good,” he told me, “because really when you work your way up, you see how everything works. I think you understand the strains that different people are under — mine goes as far as being a position coach right now; I don’t understand completely the strains of a coordinator, because I’ve never been a coordinator.

“But you know, as far as what a quality control guy does, what an assistant to an assistant does, what the assistant special teams guy does. I can understand those strains, and I’ve been in the secondary, I’ve been with the D-line, and I’ve been with the linebackers, and I think that it helps that I’ve been involved and in meeting rooms and run meetings in all three of those rooms. As linebackers coach and as linebackers you have to be with the front and with the backend also.”

So how does that actually inform the way you approach coaching the position?

Olivadotti: “It, I guess, everybody needs to know where they fit, coaches and players included. And, in a defense I think it helps that I know where everybody fits, and as a group we need to know where we fit as linebackers, and that’s kind of what we talk about: where do we fit in this defense, where do we fit in this group, where do we fit in the form of leadership. All those kinds of things and you have to have a pulse of what that is, and it’s an ever-evolving process.”

London [Fletcher] kind of echoes that with his “linebackers set the tone, linebackers set the tempo” when he fires the guys up in pregame.

Olivadotti: “Definitely, and we have to be the guys who set a tempo. London and H.B. [Blades], all the mike [middle] linebackers, are the guys that are giving the marching order directly from Greg Blache. So, there has to be some assertiveness. We’re kind of helping guys, pointing guys in the right directions, so we can all get organized, and know where we fit. So there is certain amount of leadership that is inherent to the position, I think.”

A lot of talk this offseason has centered — for obvious reasons — on who’s going to be stepping in at strong side linebacker. Can you give a quick summary for the uninitiated on how the strongside and weakside roles differ?

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